Spain’s largest employers’ association welcomes pardons for jailed Catalan leaders
Measure also backed by top Catalan bishops
Spain’s largest employers’ association, the CEOE, has welcomed the much-anticipated pardons for Catalonia’s jailed pro-independence leaders, which authorities in Madrid are expected to officially announce in the coming weeks.
"If they help things become normal, they’ll be welcome," the president of the organization, Antonio Garamendi, said in a TV interview on Thursday.
The endorsement of the CEOE, a confederation encompassing around 240 business associations across the state, underpins the Spanish government’s efforts to portray the pardons as a step towards social reconciliation in Catalonia after years of political animosity — a measure blatantly opposed by right-wing parties, which describe it as "treason to Spain."
"I’m happy to see that trade unions and business associations understand that Catalonia needs a normalizing solution," said Spain’s work minister, Yolanda Díaz, who stated that "dialogue is key" to solve the independence conflict.
Nine pro-independence leaders were convicted of sedition and sentenced to serve 9 to 13 years in prison for their role in the 2017 independence push, when Catalonia held a breakaway referendum and Spain responded by sacking the regional government and putting its members in jail.
The Spanish president that dealt with the independence crisis, the conservative People Party’s Mariano Rajoy, was ousted from office in 2018 by the Socialist Pedro Sánchez, who defends a more lenient approach in Catalonia and whose left-wing government relies on parliamentary support from Catalonia’s main pro-independence party.
Granting the nine pro-independence leaders presidential pardons to free them from jail will arguably be the most important measure taken by Sánchez in regards to Catalonia.
Next Monday, Sánchez is expected to visit Barcelona and defend the pardons in a political event held at the Liceu opera hall, indicating that the measure could be officially ratified the following day on June 22.
Bishops back pardons
Catalan bishops have also expressed their support for the pardons. In a press release, the Episcopal Conference of Barcelona and Tarragona defended the "strength of dialogue and grace measures in conflicts."
One of the priests who signed the statement is the cardinal of Barcelona, Juan José Omella, who is aso, in turn, the president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.
"If we admit that dialogue always entails renouncing one’s own demands to find some middle ground, then there will be some steps forward," the statement reads.